Help me find a new cell phone plan
January 10, 2011 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a new cheap-o cell phone plan that works in the US and Canada.

I'm not a big cell phone person, so I currently have a pretty cheap pay-as-you-go plan with Virgin Mobile. Here are the details:
  • $0.20/minute for voice
  • $5.00/month for 200 texts.
  • $5.00/month for 5MB data
For my purposes, this actually works out pretty well. I average less than 15 minutes per month in voice calling, I never go over 200 texts per month, and the web browser on my phone is so hilariously bad that I have to browse with images turned off which keeps the data well below 5MB (it's sufficient to check my email and FB). All told, I spend between $10 and $15 month on cell service.

The only problem is that this phone does not work in Canada. I live in Seattle and take the occasional jaunt up to Vancouver, BC and it's a bit of a hassle not to have a cell phone that works there. And, as far as I can tell, none of the US pay-as-you-go plans have phones that will work in Canada. So, dear Hivemind, does anyone have a suggestion for a cell phone/plan that is not too different from my current plan that does have coverage in both the US and Canada? I would prefer plans that don't require a contract but I suspect I might need to be flexible on that front.
posted by mhum to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing I've been able to find that resembles that is Verizon's Nationwide + Canada plan. Can't tell you if it's any good - we just decided to get a second cell phone, one for Canada and one for the US.
posted by jasper411 at 12:44 PM on January 10, 2011

PagePlus Cellular resells Verizon's network in the US ($80 refill = $0.04/minute, $0.08/text, 365 day expiration, $0.50/month fee) and roams in Canada at $0.60/minute, $0.50/text sent, $0.25/text received. You can use most Verizon phones.
posted by ChrisHartley at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2011

Conusmer Cellular? I don't know how far into Canada it would go, but with good service right up to the border, I can't say it would be too shabby. My mom has about the same utilization as you, but only on voice, and she does the 250 minute plan. If you were to add on the 5MB/500 message plan, that adds another 5, so you'd be able to get away with a $25 cell bill, even cheaper if you paid the minutes as you went. Might give it a shot.
posted by deezil at 1:09 PM on January 10, 2011

There's also Tracfone.

But I have no idea if it works in Canada.
posted by freakazoid at 1:22 PM on January 10, 2011

According to their customer service lines, neither Tracfone nor Consumer Cellular have any phones that work in Canada. PagePlus seems to allow international roaming to Canada, so they might work. Still waiting on customer service to help figure out exactly what the deal is with them.
posted by mhum at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2011

Get a second phone and prepaid plan from Virgin Mobile Canada. Only activate it when you're going up, and deactivate it when you get back. If you want people to be able to call you regardless of where you are, get a Google Voice number and point it at both the phones. Unfortunately, you'll only be able to text from one of them, so if that's a deal killer, never mind.
posted by hades at 8:47 PM on January 11, 2011

(The second phone and plan don't have to be with VM Canada, obviously. Any cheap prepaid Canadian service will do. The point is that it's so cheap to activate one of those that it basically only adds $15 to your trip to have a phone.)
posted by hades at 8:50 PM on January 11, 2011

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